CRANFORD, NJ – Union County’s women of Irish descent are coming together to build relationships, network and raise money for young women of Irish heritage.

Two Clark women, Kate Mooney and Lori Connolly, teamed up last April to start the Union County Daughters of Ireland. They were inspired by the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, a group of which Mooney’s father is a proud member.

“I grew up with three brothers, and I always watched them bond with my dad through dinners and events that I couldn’t go to,” Mooney said. “So we thought, ‘let’s start our own group for women.’”

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The group held its first fundraising event, a Halfway to Saint Patrick’s Day bar crawl through Downtown Cranford, last Saturday. The event raised more than $3,500, which will be put towards a scholarship fund for a high school senior of Irish descent.

Mooney, who recently traveled to Ireland, said the fundraiser brought back memories of her trip.

“When I think about my trip, I think about our first fundraiser,” Mooney said. “The people in Ireland are so friendly, it doesn’t matter if you’re a tourist or a local. When we walked around Cranford, it didn’t matter who you were or who you were with. The correlation was streamlined.”

The bar crawl was the group’s first fundraiser, but they have more planned. All proceeds will go to a scholarship for a high school senior of college descent in Union County.

“I think it’s important that women have a way to give back and to honor their Irish heritage,” Mooney said. “Growing up with three brothers, I saw the relationships they were offered with tmy dad and I felt like I wanted that with my mom and any daughters I might have. I like to think there was a need for it.”

Mooney’s mom is a proud member of the Union County Daughters of Ireland, along with women from age 18 to 70. They meet twice a month at Molly Maguire’s in Clark to network and brainstorm fundraising ideas.

“Everything brings something different to the table,” Mooney said. “We want to be as successful as possible. It’s really exciting to get together and give back to the community at the same time.”

The group’s next fundraiser in a dine and donate event at Panera in Clark on October 24. In the next few months, they will also hold a Breakfast with Santa in December and an after party following the Union County Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. To find out more about the organization or join, click here.